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Country of originJapan
Running time15 minutes
Production companyNHK
Original networkNHK
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseApril 9, 2002 (2002-04-09) –
External links

PythagoraSwitch (ピタゴラスイッチ, Pitagora Suitchi) is a 15-minute Japanese educational television program that has been aired by NHK since April 9, 2002. It encourages augmenting children's "way of thinking" under the supervision of Masahiko Satō (佐藤雅彦) and Masumi Uchino (内野真澄). A five-minute format called PythagoraSwitch Mini is also available.

During the beginning and ending of each episode, and between each corner (segment), there are Pythagorean Devices (ピタゴラ装置, Pitagora Sōchi). "Pythagorean device" is the equivalent Japanese colloquialism for the American "Rube Goldberg machine" and British "Heath Robinson" contraption. The main focus of the program is a puppet show, but the subject is mainly advanced by small corners. World phenomena, principles, characteristics, and the like are introduced in an entertaining way. At the end of each segment, the show's title is sung as a kind of punchline.


In the show, segments are called "corners".

Today's Topic[edit]

A puppet show in which Grandpa Encyclopedia (百科おじさん, Hyakka Oji-san) explains the structure of the world to young penguins Pita and Gora. A recurring situation is that, while discussing each topic, Encyclopedia would often say "The details are on my Nth page", to what the Penguins, after looking at said page, respond "We're children, so we can't read..." After that, the three call upon Televi-John (テレビのジョン, Terebi no Jon) an anthropomorphic dog-like TV, who shows them a video about the topic. A mouse called Suu is also featured.

Pythagora Devices[edit]

Pythagora Devices (ピタゴラ装置, Pitagora Souchi) are frequently featured.

Algorithm Exercise[edit]

A corner broadcast since 2002. It stars the duo Itsumo Kokokara. It is algorithm themed, so that the movements that are done side by side are related ("crouching motion" combines with "shaking arms", so that the arms avoid the action, etc.). Usually, the duo does the exercise with special guests, such as NHK announcers, baseball players, sumo wrestlers, etc.

There are also individual versions for each member: the "Yamada version" and the "Kikuchi version".

Algorithm March[edit]

Otou-san Switch[edit]

A segment in which a father and his child act out sequences and play games based on any of the Japanese letter sounds.

Other Corners[edit]

  • Bend the Stick Anime (ポキポキアニメ, Pokipoki Anime)
    1. Sumo wrestler
    2. Tea kettle
    3. Chicks
  • The Black Box Person Question (ブラックボックス人問題, Burakku Bokkusu Jin Mondai)
  • Botejin (ぼてじん, Botejin): A potato shaped like a dice (voiced by Iwao Nozomi) moves forward and backward and to the left and right in the tiles drawn on the ground, with words written on each side of him. He can move even if he is out of the tiles.
  • The Circles and Triangles (○と△のしゅうだん, Maru to Sankaku no Shūdan)
  • Do Your Best!! Product Test (がんばれ!製品テスト, Ganbare! Seihin Tesuto): This segment introduces the stages of product testing before the shipment of industrial products.
    1. Office chairs
    2. Ballpoint pens
  • Framy (フレーミー, Furēmī): Animated shorts about a dog named Framy, who is made out of clear squares. Other characters that are composed of simple figures, but they are not transparent.
  • How the Trick Works! By Ms. Hammer Critic! aka Ms. Hammer Critic's Time (トンカッチのそこのしくみがしりタイム, Tonkachi no Soko no Shikumi ga Shiri Taimu): a critique of Pythagorean Devices by Ms. Hammer Critic (voiced by Mio Ueda), in some segments a dissection of the Pythagora Devices are demonstrated to “how the trick works”.
    1. Equipment No. 147: 3 Cups
    2. Equipment No. 175: The Come Back Car
    3. Equipment No. 144: The Toothpick
  • If You Don't Believe it! Just Try it! (「ウソだと思うなら、やってみな。」, Uso Da to Omou Nara, Yattemina.)
    1. The Tale of the Egg and Salt (タマゴとしおのはなし, Tamago to Shio no Hanashi): an egg floats on a cup filled with water mixed with salt
    2. Matsugoro the Pinecone (まつぼっくりのマツゴロー, Matsubokkuri no Matsugorō): a pine cone dipped in a glass of water contracts, and when dry it expands back to normal
    3. Nori seaweed on the diving board (とびこみだいのあじつけのり, Tobikomidai no Ajitsuke Nori): a nori seaweed in a clear package becomes transparent when dipped in a glass of water
    4. Ice cube in a construction site (こおりのおしろのけんせつちゅう, Kōri no Oshiro no Kensetsuchū): lifting a salted ice cube with a string
    5. The cup kid's naming practice (コップのこどもなまえをれんしゅう, Koppu no Kodomo Namae o Renshū): pouring water to a cup in front of a paper inscribed コップ (with the pu mirrored horizontally) reverses that letter's image
    6. "Mini" segment: whiteboard art on a mirror floats when dipped on a tub of water
  • The Invisible Man X (とうめい人間X, Tōmei Ningen Ekkusu)
  • It Can't Be Done (こんなことできません, Konna Koto Dekimasen): Tsutomu Sekine and Jonio Iwai perform what seems to be physically impossible feats using stop-motion photography. At the end of each segment, the title of the corner changes to "It Can't Can Be Done" (こんなことできませんした, Konna Koto Dekimasenshita).
  • Nendore Nandore Mr. Clay, What's Got Stuck on You Today? (ねんどれナンドレラッツの跡じまん, Nendore Nandorerattsu no Atojiman): claymation featuring Nendore and Nandore tripping on various objects resulting in impressions:
    1. TV remote and peanuts
    2. Colored pencils and a piece of cheese
    3. Cellophane tape dispenser and magnet
    4. Bottle opener and clothespin
    5. Acorns and dice
    6. Mosquito coil and seashells
    7. Marbles and shogi pieces
  • A New Creature (新しい生物, Atarashii Seibutsu): A stop-motion animation segment featuring ordinary objects being brought to life.
    1. Erasersaurus (ケシゴムザウルス, Keshigomuzaurusu), eraser
    2. Strawceraps (ストロケラプス, Sutorokerapusu), drinking straw
    3. Rubbernnus (ワゴムヌス, Wagomunus), rubber band
    4. Boltnodon (ボルトノドン, Borutonodon), bolt
    5. Sugarcubeton (カクザザトン, Kakuzazaton), sugar cube
    6. Stickynus (フセンヌス, Fusennusu), sticky note
    7. Chopsticknodon (ハシノドン, Hashinodon), chopsticks
    8. Brushnodon (ブラシノドン, Burashinodon), shoe brush
    9. Matchboxnus (マッチバコヌス, Matchibakonus), matchbox
    10. Aluminumfoilps (アルミホイルプス, Arumihoirupusu), aluminum foil
    Also includes Afterwards (そのあと, Sono Ato) and Evolution (進化, Shinka) segments for some of the above creatures.
  • Pythagora Equipment Academy (ピタゴラ装置アカデミア, Pitagora Sōchi Akademia): This segment teaches how to make gadgets and gimmicks included in Pythagora Devices.
    • Beginner Course
      1. Zigzag Sloping Road
    • Intermediate Course
      1. A Winding Road
      2. Marble Accelerator
    • Advanced Course
  • PythagoraSwitch Folding Handkerchief Theater (ピタゴラスイッチおりたたみハンカチ劇場, Pitagora Suitchi Oritatami Hankachi Gekijō)
  • See the Wiggle Men! What's Different? (くねくね人まちがいさがし, Kunekune Hito Machigaisagashi)
  • Tape Measure Jackie (まきじゃくのジャック, Makijaku no Jakku)
  • 10-Stick Anime (10本アニメ, 10-Pon Anime): Ten small sticks join together and transform into various things.
  • Then the Bridge Thought of What to Do (そこで橋は考えた, Soko de Hashi wa Kangaeta)
    1. Swing bridge (Amanohashidate, Kyoto)
    2. Bascule bridge (Tei Port Moveable Bridge in Kōnan, Kōchi)
    3. Lift bridge (Kagasunobashi in Tokushima)
    4. Transporter bridge (Vizcaya Bridge in Biscay, Spain)
    5. Submersible bridge (on Corinth Canal in Isthmia, Greece)
    6. Rolling bascule bridge (Te Matau ā Pohe in Whangarei, New Zealand)
  • Today's Counting Numbers (かぞえてみよう, Kaozetemiyou)
  • Today's Switch (今日のスイッチ, Kyō no Suitchi): In a certain place, a start switch is pressed in a machine, which introduces something happening.
  • Today's Just Barely (きょうのスレスレ, Kyō no Suresure)
  • Today's Robot (今日のロボット, Kyō no Robotto): A segment which introduces various robots (mainly work robots).
    1. Sentry robot
    2. Bicycle parking
    3. Automatic milking
  • Understand in 5 Seconds (5秒でわかる, 5-Byō de Wakaru)
  • What Animal is This? (なんのどうぶつ?, Nan no Dōbutsu?): Motion capture animation, in which dots appear one by one, inviting readers to guess what animal is depicted in the initial film.
    1. An inchworm
  • What Numbers are They? (何の数字?, Nan no Sūji?)
  • What on Earth is This? (なんだこれ?, Nanda Kore?)
    1. A horse
    2. Fish bones
    3. Walking the dog
  • What are These Points?/What's this Person's Doing? (なにしてる点? / なにしてるひと?, Nani Shiteru Ten?/Nani Shiteru Hito?): An inlay of dots, as in What Animal is This?, together with motion capture, invites readers to guess what these dots form or person is doing.
    1. Bullfighting
    2. Conducting
  • Which One is Real? (どっちが本物?, Dotchi ga Honmono?)
    1. Tangerines
    2. Pencils
    3. Teacups


Dankichi Kuruma (車だん吉), Jun Inoue (井上順), and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (草彅剛), are some of the voice actors who perform and call out the topics.


Outside Japan, NHK World Premium broadcasts PythagoraSwitch Mini. In Brazil, TV Cultura has been broadcasting it under the title Viva Pitágoras! since at least 2006.[1] Starting April 2015, an English version of PythagoraSwitch Mini has been broadcast on NHK World TV. In addition, some PythagoraSwitch videos are also available on Google Video, YouTube and DailyMotion.


At the 30th Japan Prize International Educational Program Contest, in 2003, episode 25 "Let's Look at It Another Way" won top prize, the Prime Minister's award, of the Early Education category.[2] At Prix Jeunesse 2004 in Munich it won top prize in the age 6 and below non-fiction category.[3]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 November 2006. Retrieved 12 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ NHK Japan prize
  3. ^ Press Release - Prix Jeunesse 2004 Archived 2012-05-08 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]